The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands breaks ground on a project in Kealakehe
The State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground on a 125-lot project in Kealakehe on Wednesday.
Construction for the Phase 2 La’i ‘Opua Hema project includes grading, road construction and utility improvements to prepare the land for residential subdivision. The work will take about 14 months.
The $13.8 million initiative was funded with $11.1 million from the state Legislature and a $2.7 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program.
“It’s very exciting to be back in Kealakehe this year to break the groundwork for this project,” said DHHL Vice Chairman Tyler Gomes, who attended a ceremony with other officials on Wednesday to mark the start of the construction project mark, in a statement. “We are one step closer to bringing more homestead lots online in the Hema Phase 2 portion for beneficiaries on the island of Hawaii.”
The Phase 2 Hema project is part of the larger masterplanned community villages of La’i ‘Opua. The 572-acre property, which was transferred to DHHL in the mid-1990s, currently contains 284 residential lots and is expected to house nearly 600 residences when complete.
At the ceremony, Gomes noted the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act last year. The law, championed by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, set aside about 203,000 acres of former crown and government land in the Hawaiian kingdom for homesteads. It was signed by then-President Warren Harding on July 9, 1921.
The La’i ‘Opua Project comes at a time when many Native Hawaiian beneficiaries have long expressed concerns about the growing homestead waiting list, which now numbers about 28,000 people.
The department said it also plans to break ground on two more projects on the island of Hawaii next month.